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Council Agenda: Budget Work and Charter Commission

Bond policy vote, Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance and Town Square changes also on deck.

Work on the fiscal 2013 city budget and a proposal to appoint a commission to review the city charter are on the Rockville City Council’s agenda for Monday night.

The council also is scheduled to vote on a policy for issuing economic development bonds, to discuss a request for an Attorney General’s opinion on the city’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance and to hear an update on proposed changes at Rockville Town Square.

The council at . The meeting will be broadcast live on Rockville 11.

Charter review commission

The council is scheduled to discuss establishing a panel to review the city charter.

Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio has said that she would like the city to consider moving to staggered four-year terms for the mayor and City Council members. She also would like the city to consider increasing the number of members of the council.

A 12-member City Charter Commission that reported to the City Council in December 2002 considered those issues as well as the following:

  • Councilmanic districts vs. at-large elections.
  • Weekend elections.
  • Voting privileges for resident alien citizens of Rockville (a recommendation removed by consensus of the council).
  • Alternative dates and times for voting.
  • The methods by which recall referenda can be generated by citizens.
  • The requirement that referenda bind the Mayor and Council.
  • A mandatory charter review every 10 years.

City staff outlined a rough timeline for the new commission, including:

  • Appointment of members: June.
  • Monthly meetings: July through December (with no meeting in August).
  • An interim progress report: October.
  • A final report to the City Council: January.

Budget work

The council is scheduled to hold its first of three scheduled work sessions on the city budget for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1.

The work session will focus on the operating budget for city police, the city manager's office, the Department of Information Technology and the budgets for the mayor and City Council and the city clerk’s office.

is $107 million. The proposed capital budget is $75.1 million.

Future budget work is scheduled as follows:

  • April 16: Recreation and Parks (operating and capital budgets), City Attorney, Human Resources, and Finance departments.
  • April 30: Public Works (operating and capital budgets) and Community Planning and Development Services departments.

A fourth work session will be held, if needed, on May 14.

A third and final public hearing is scheduled for May 7. Staff is recommending that the public record remain open for written testimony until May 17.

The council is scheduled to adopt the budget on May 21.

Economic development bonds

The council is scheduled to vote on a policy establishing criteria for the city to issue Economic Development Revenue Bonds on behalf of nonprofit organizations.

The vote was delayed due to Councilman John Hall’s absence from the April 2 meeting due to illness.

Opinion on the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance

The council also is scheduled to consider whether to pose four questions to the state’s Attorney General about a city ordinance that seeks to ensure that transportation infrastructure, public schools, fire and emergency service and water and sewer service, can sufficiently handle the impact of new development.

Councilman Tom Moore proposed the questions in a March 4 email to the mayor and council. They are:

  1. Does a local jurisdiction have the authority to enact and enforce an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance that restricts development based on a public facility the jurisdiction does not plan, stage or provide?
  2. If so, must the standards in that ordinance be substantially similar to the standards of the jurisdiction that does plan, stage, or provide the public facility?
  3. When a jurisdictions APFO restricts development based on a public facility that it does not plan, stage, or provide must it provide a means of mitigation?
  4. What does the phrase "substantially similar" mean in the APFO context? For example, are the school standards in Rockville's APFO substantially similar to those in Montgomery County's?

The topic is a continuation of an at times heated half-hour-long discussion that the council began on March 5.

Click here to view video of that discussion.

The continuation was on the council’s April 2 agenda, but was delayed due to Hall’s absence. Earlier this year, Hall proposed changes to the ordinance for the council to consider, The Gazette reported.

During the March 5 discussion, Hall said he opposed the request for an opinion. Moore said he wants the opinion to avoid potentially costly lawsuits against the city, which he said are in the works.

Last month, of the city Planning Commission’s approval of a development project that he said did not follow the APFO.

Town Square plaza changes

is scheduled to give an update on changes the owner and operating is proposing for the retail district’s plaza.

The proposed changes, according to a city staff report, include:

  • Replacing the existing mulched area with artificial turf and removing the curbs around the plaza.
  • Removing most of the rocks on the mulched area.
  • Installing, what the report calls “large, colorful ‘play sculptures’ in the artificial turf area.”
  • Adding shade trees at the north and south ends of the plaza. “The ‘Signature Tree’ (large tree in the southeast corner of the current mulched area) will remain,” the report says.
  • Installing additional seating and “container-landscaping.”
  • Installing “temporary shade structures in the artificial turf area.”
  • Installing a fire pit, fountain or combination of the two at the east end of the plaza adjacent the Maryland Avenue sidewalk with seating in a semi-circle around the feature. Installation would likely occur in the fall.

Federal Realty intends to make the improvements on a schedule that minimizes the impact on regularly-scheduled weekly events on the plaza and on city events such as .

If the council approves the proposed improvements, Federal Realty will take steps to obtain the proper permits “and begin work on the improvements as soon as possible,” the report says.

Bridge lettering

The council was scheduled to consider another connecting the Rockville Metro station and Town Center.

Councilman Tom Moore said Monday that the item had been pulled from the agenda due to a scheduling conflict with Federal Realty.

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